Everyone has at least one tool that they have too many of. Well, you can’t really have “too many” tools, so perhaps “more than you need” is the more appropriate term. For me, ratchets are one of those tools. If I gathered them all up I must have at least 20. There are so many different types it’s almost crazy. Standard length, long handle, stubby, flex head, indexable, offset, pear head, round head, composite, fine tooth, course tooth, wait, composite? as in plastic?
So what is a composite ratchet? The good folks over at Tekton sent us a set to determine just that. As it turns out it is plastic, well, sort of. TEKTON uses a Chrome Vanadium core wrapped in a composite material as seen in this cutaway:
The first things I noticed when I picked these up were the light weight and robust grip. I especially appreciated the more substantial grip on the ¼” as I find many ¼” handles too small. Consequently, the 1/2” model may be a little too robust for users with small hands. Even in the February cold the composite shell makes the ratchets comfortable to handle without gloves and the offset handle design, while making them less than ideal in “cramped quarters” situations, provided excellent knuckle clearance when removing the transmission cover on my 1962 Cub Cadet project.
The 72 tooth, dual pawl, mechanism (with quick release), makes these ratchets as smooth as you can reasonably expect and requires just 5 degrees of swing to operate. I’ve bought several high quality ratchets that I felt I needed to open up and lubricate before I used them the first time, but that certainly wasn’t the case with these. While it wasn’t a concern on my old beat up tractor, the composite coating provides excellent scratch and ding resistance when working on a fine finished surface or chromed out engine, which is something the motorcycle or show car crowd will surely appreciate.The downside to the composite coating is that it will get nicked up with use, but that wasn’t a concern for me.
For me, one of the most important qualities in a tool is how it feels in my hand. These TEKTON’s grow on you. It’s one of those things you can’t really explain, you just find yourself reaching over other ratchets to get it. The thin steel frame, composite coating, and ergonomic design, make them an excellent choice for all day comfort, but (as with most fine tooth ratchets) they’re probably not the ideal choice for “heavy duty” or high torque applications. Not to worry though, not only are they inexpensive, they’re also backed by TEKTON’s Lifetime Replacement Guarantee making them unquestionably worthy of a spot in your box. Check out more at TEKTON.